The Best Bookstores in All 50 States

There are around 2.5 million used, new, and rare books housed inside New York City's multiple Strand Bookstore locations.
There are around 2.5 million used, new, and rare books housed inside New York City's multiple Strand Bookstore locations. / Alexi Rosenfeld/GettyImages

From their resident cats to that old book smell, there’s something about wandering up and down the aisles of a brick-and-mortar bookstore that online merchants could never replicate. In honor of Independent Bookstore Day (April 29, 2023), Mental Floss has picked the best bookshop in every state—plus a few others we loved, too.

1. The Best Bookstore in Alabama: Alabama Booksmith // Homewood, Alabama

One of the Birmingham area’s hidden gems, the Alabama Booksmith is a unique delight for book-lovers and collectors alike. Since a remodel in 2012, the shop has featured an inventory consisting exclusively of signed book copies. The store has another special touch, too: Every book is displayed face-out so that customers can more easily discern whether or not something is right for them.

Other Alabama Bookstores We Love: Reed Books (Birmingham), Page & Palette (Fairhope)

2. The Best Bookstore in Alaska: Title Wave Books // Anchorage, Alaska

The cleverly named Title Wave Books is not only the largest bookstore in Alaska, but also one of the biggest used bookstores in the entire country. In addition to its massive catalog of over 500,000 books, the store houses many vinyl records, audiobooks, and DVDs. And if for some reason you aren't interested in checking out the books, the store also has a host of events including Scrabble and chess nights.

Other Alaska Bookstores We Love: The Writer’s Block (Anchorage), Homer Bookstore (Homer)

3. The Best Bookstore in Arizona: Changing Hands Bookstore // Phoenix & Tempe, Arizona

An exterior view of the Changing Hands Bookstore
An exterior view of the Changing Hands Bookstore / Mike Moore/Getty Images for Corday Productions

With locations in both Phoenix and Tempe, Changing Hands Bookstore encompasses the best of Arizona literature. The Tempe location has been in business since 1974, and its success allowed them to open their second store in a repurposed restaurant in central Phoenix. The Phoenix location is home to the must-visit First Draft Book Bar—after all, how often you can be served booze at a bookstore?

Other Arizona Bookstores We Love: Antigone Books (Tucson)

4. The Best Bookstore in Arkansas: Dickson St. Bookshop // Fayetteville, Arkansas

A community favorite located only a short distance away from the University of Arkansas campus, Dickson St. Bookshop features a plethora of literary classics and much more. With thousands of books onsite, it's frequently named not just one of the best bookstores in Arkansas, but also one of the best in the nation.

Other Arkansas Bookstores We Love: WordsWorth Books & Co (Little Rock)

5. The Best Bookstore in California: Green Apple Books // San Francisco, California

Competition for San Francisco’s book lovers is fierce—the city is also home to famous independent bookstores like City Lights—but Green Apple Books remains a beloved local luminary. The store has grown over the decades to occupy a two-story, sprawling space in the city’s Richmond District. Filled with books both new and used, the store sells not just hardback literature, but e-books and audiobooks, magazines, LPs, and more. In 2014, it expanded its wares to a second location, Green Apple Books on the Park, located near Golden Gate Park. Online, it offers services like the Apple-a-Month Club, which sends subscribers a new fiction paperback each month, while its two stores host readings by local writers and literary legends alike.

Other California Bookstores We Love: City Lights Bookstore (San Francisco), The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles), Book Soup (Los Angeles), Time Tested Books (Sacramento), Chaucer’s Bookstore (Santa Barbara)

6. The Best Bookstore in Colorado: Tattered Cover // Denver, Colorado

Since its opening in 1971, Denver’s storied Tattered Cover has been through numerous transformations: moving locations, opening satellites, adding cafes, and, at one point, having a (since closed) restaurant and bar. Considered one of the most successful independent bookstores in the country, it now sells new and used books at multiple outposts in Denver and Littleton, Colorado. You can find international bestsellers alongside indie literature and a wide range of used volumes. It hosts writing workshops, book clubs, literary readings, film screenings, and storytime for kids, and in 2019, launched the one-day Colorado Book and Arts Festival.

Other Colorado Bookstores We Love: Book Cranny (Arvada), Boulder Bookstore (Boulder), Capitol Hill Books (Denver)

7. The Best Bookstore in Connecticut: R.J. Julia Booksellers // Madison, Connecticut

R.J. Julia has been one of Connecticut's premier book destinations for decades, and for good reason. Named one of New England magazine’s “Best Bookstores to Spend the Day” in 2018, the Madison-based bookstore features a large selection of books and gifts, knowledgeable staff, and a great cafe. It's more than just a place to stop by and grab a new paperback, though. The store hosts more than 300 events every year, and owner Roxanne J. Coady is dedicated to finding every reader their perfect book. In 2009, she launched Just the Right Book, a personalized book-of-the-month subscription service, and recently expanded it to include a Just the Right Book podcast that features interviews between Coady and bestselling authors. If you can't stop by the store in person, we recommend using R.J. Julia’s “What’s Your Perfect Next Read” online quiz to find your new favorite book.

Other Connecticut Bookstores We Love: Hickory Stick Bookshop (Washington Depot), Byrd’s Books (Bethel)

8. The Best Bookstore in Delaware: Browseabout Books // Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Founded in 1975, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is a local legend—so much so that the company's 40th anniversary party was attended by Delaware’s governor and multiple state senators. In 1992, Browseabout took over a former open-air mall that once housed seven stores and evolved to sell gifts, toys, and stationery alongside books and a coffee bar. lists it as one of its favorite poetry-friendly bookstores, while writer Anna March extolled its virtues in the literary journal Tin House in 2013, calling it “a thing to behold—best sellers and beach books, yes, but also a strong kids section; travel books and literary fiction with an extensive back catalog; books by local authors; and a selection of essays, poetry, plays.”

Other Delaware Bookstores We Love: Bethany Beach Books (Bethany Beach)

9. The Best Bookstore in Florida: Books & Books at The Studios of Key West // Key West, Florida

There are several locations of Books & Books, which has stores around South Florida (and one in the Cayman Islands), but the Key West affiliate of the chain has a special place in book lovers' hearts for one reason: It's the only store that was founded by Judy Blume and her husband, George Cooper. Located in a former Masonic Temple that now serves as a nonprofit arts space, it's just what you would expect from a bookstore owned by a literary luminary. The store is designed with readers in mind, with reading lights and a curated selection of literary fiction, poetry, art books, magazines, and new bestsellers, plus an entire room devoted to professional-grade art supplies. Oh, and it's perhaps the only bookstore where you can get book recommendations straight from the mouth of Judy Blume.

Other Florida Bookstores We Love: Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore (Delray Beach)

10. The Best Bookstore in Georgia: Charis Books // Atlanta, Georgia

Charis Books And More has been around in the Atlanta metro area since 1974, making it the oldest independent feminist bookstore in the southern United States. Charis’s inventory is stocked with books that fall into diverse categories, like LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction, food issues and body image, anti-ableism, race, and reproductive rights. As part of its mission to support local, independent authors, Charis encourages writers of all backgrounds to request to have their books sold in the store. The shop also hosts about 270 literary, social justice, and educational events a year.

Other Georgia Bookstores We Love: Book Nook (Decatur), Avid Bookshop (Athens), A Cappella Books (Atlanta)

11. The Best Bookstore in Hawaii: Talk Story Bookstore // Hanapepe, Kauai

Talk Story Bookstore
Talk Story Bookstore / Paul Schultz, Flickr // CC By 2.0

The westernmost bookstore in the United States, Talk Story Bookstore has over 150,000 new, used, and out-of-print titles to choose from, whether it’s mysteries or Hawaiiana. As the only bookstore on Kauai, it's a much-loved community resource, and patrons praise its friendly owners, Ed Justus and Cynthia Lynn, who have been in business since 2004.

Other Hawaii Bookstores We Love: da Shop: books + curiosities (Honolulu), BookEnds (Kailua)

12. The Best Bookstore in Idaho: Rediscovered Books // Boise, Idaho

Founded in 2006, Rediscovered Books is known as the go-to community bookstore for literature geeks. With multiple book clubs and a litany of special events ranging from author signings to their so-called “infamous” Book & Booze nights, there's sure to be a reading group to meet any adult special interest.

Other Idaho Bookstores We Love: The Well-Read Moose (Coeur d’Alene), BookPeople of Moscow (Moscow)

13. The Best Bookstore in Illinois: Anderson’s Bookshop // Naperville, Illinois

A beloved part of the Naperville, Illinois, community since 1875, Anderson’s Bookshop is still operated by fifth-generation descendants of the original founders. It's a hub for author events, book clubs, children's reading activities, and a huge selection of books. Catch the monthly staff picks of new and older titles to really diversify your to-be-read pile.

Other Illinois Bookstores We Love: Bookman’s Corner (Chicago), The Book Cellar (Chicago)

14. The Best Bookstore in Indiana: Hyde Brothers // Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Hyde Brothers claims to be “Indiana‘s best-loved bookstore,” and who are we to argue? This charming secondhand bookshop brims with titles jostling for space on floor-to-ceiling shelves. There are plenty of step stools and rolling ladders to help you find what you crave among the store's specialties—history, literature, nature, sports, horror, religion, and more. And while you're there, don't forget to pet Scout and Sherlock, the bookshop’s two kitties.

Other Indiana Bookstores We Love: Indy Reads Books (Indianapolis), Main Street Books (Lafayette)

15. The Best Bookstore in Iowa: The Haunted Bookshop // Iowa City, Iowa

Spoiler alert: This secondhand bookshop isn’t actually haunted (it’s named after the Christopher Morley novel of the same name). While that may be disappointing, the shop’s inventory definitely isn’t. Spread over 10 rooms in an 1847 mansion, the collection spans fiction, world cultures and history, art and writing, regional history, science and nature, and much more.

Other Iowa Bookstores We Love: Source Book Store (Davenport)

16. The Best Bookstore in Kansas: Rainy Day Books // Kansas City, Kansas

The first stop for authors and their fans in Kansas City is usually Rainy Day Books. The shop was one of the first in the U.S. to focus on author events to create a community around books and reading, and today, it has one of the busiest schedules in the country. That’s in addition to a selection of books and staff picks featuring emerging writers as well as bestsellers.

Other Kansas Bookstores We Love: Watermark Books and Cafe (Wichita), The Raven Bookstore (Lawrence)

17. The Best Bookstore in Kentucky: Joseph-Beth Booksellers // Lexington, Kentucky

Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington is a literary treasure trove. JB, as it's called locally, has six outlets in both Kentucky and Ohio, but the Lexington branch is perhaps the most beautiful one. Grab a book and a bite to eat from the store’s Brontë Bistro, and enjoy the atmosphere as natural light filters into the building through a skylight in the high, vaulted ceiling.

Other Kentucky Bookstores We Love: Carmichael’s Bookstore (Louisville)

18. The Best Bookstore in Louisiana: Faulkner House Books // New Orleans, Louisiana

It’s only fitting that As I Lay Dying author William Faulkner’s former apartment in New Orleans was converted into a bookstore. Located on Pirate‘s Alley in the historic French Quarter, Faulkner House Books is just as charming as you’d expect. Naturally, you’ll find a number of Faulkner titles on the store’s wooden shelves, but the outlet also specializes in Modern First Editions, Southern Americana books, and the works of Tennessee Williams and Walker Percy.

Other Louisiana Bookstores We Love: Garden District Book Shop (New Orleans)

19. The Best Bookstore in Maine: Longfellow Books // Portland, Maine

Portland has been called the “hippest city” in Maine, so it‘s perhaps no surprise that the coastal town is home to roughly a half-dozen indie bookstores. If you only have time to visit one, though, make it Longfellow Books. Named after Portland native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the store hosts regular book launches and poetry readings, and always features an array of diverse staff picks.

Other Maine Bookstores We Love: Owl & Turtle Bookshop Café (Camden), Annie’s Book Stop (Wells), Gulf of Maine Books (Brunswick)

20. The Best Bookstore in Maryland: Second Story Books // Rockville, Maryland

Second Story Books’s cavernous warehouse in this Washington, D.C. suburb is crammed with used books, rare volumes, antiquarian collections, art and antiques, and much more, all arranged in delightfully specific categories (Byzantine studies or polar exploration, anyone?). Be ready to hunt for buried treasure at 50 percent off the cover price. There’s another, smaller location in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, too.

Other Maryland Bookstores We Love: The Book Escape (Baltimore), Normal’s Books and Records (Baltimore)

21. The Best Bookstore in Massachusetts: Trident Booksellers & Cafe // Boston, Massachusetts

Trident Booksellers & Cafe in Boston
Trident Booksellers & Cafe in Boston / Todd Van Hoosear, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

With so many colleges in the state, it makes sense that Massachusetts also has an impressive array of bookstores to cater to all those students. Trident Booksellers & Cafe not only has great books, but something that’s just as essential to college kids: A cafe that's open until 10 p.m. and serves breakfast all day. After grabbing a meal or coffee, guests can browse the books and one of the most impressive magazine selections in the city.

Other Massachusetts Bookstores We Love: Raven Used Books (Cambridge), Titcomb’s Bookshop (East Sandwich), Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Cambridge)

22. The Best Bookstore in Michigan: John K. King Used and Rare Books // Detroit, Michigan

Book lovers could easily spend all day at John K. King Used and Rare Books in Detroit. The store houses more than a million books spread over four stories, with 25,000 volumes in the rare books room alone. Don’t let the intimidating size stop you from popping in: Staff members hand out maps to guests as soon as they enter.

Other Michigan Bookstores We Love: Brilliant Books (Traverse City), Kazoo Books (Kalamazoo)

23. The Best Bookstore in Minnesota: Wild Rumpus // Minneapolis, Minnesota

Though the inventory here might be geared toward younger readers, it would be hard for any true book lover to pass up a visit to this charming shop that takes its name from Where the Wild Things Are. Opened in 1992, Wild Rumpus endeavors to be more than just a bookstore—it hopes to turn curious kids into lifelong readers by featuring virtual bilingual story times and book clubs for various age groups. You’ll also find an array of animals at the store, including a cockatiel named Dave and a kitten named Eartha Kitt. It’s hardly surprising that the store was named Publishers Weekly’s Bookstore of the Year in 2017 (or that it was the first children’s store to ever achieve that honor).

Other Minnesota Bookstores We Love: Birchbark Books (Minneapolis), Magers & Quinn Booksellers (Minneapolis), Sweet Reads (Austin)

24. The Best Bookstore in Mississippi: Square Books // Oxford, Mississippi

“Four stores on five floors in three buildings 100 feet apart,” boasts Oxford’s Square Books. All located at the historic town square, the main bookstore holds court in an older building with a block-long second-level balcony. They also have a separate children’s bookstore and “Off Square Books,” a full store for lifestyle books (cooking, travel, photography, etc.) and bargain buys. The most recent addition to the club, Rare Square Books, opened in September 2019 and features hard-to-find first editions and other vintage items. Along with the usual author events, Square hosts Thacker Mountain Radio, a live weekly show that features both literary and musical talent—it's no wonder Publishers Weekly named Square Books their Bookstore of the Year in 2013.

Other Mississippi Bookstores We Love: Lemuria Books (Jackson)

25. The Best Bookstore in Missouri: Left Bank Books // St. Louis, Missouri

Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri
Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri / Paul Sableman, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1969 by a group of Washington University grad students who wanted a central place with a wide variety of literature, St. Louis’s Left Bank Books has been a local institution for more than 50 years. It even has a foundation for helping improve literacy in the St. Louis public schools and hosts multiple open book clubs each month, including a gay men's group, a lesbian group, a “read the resistance” night, and a book group dedicated to horror novels.

Other Missouri Bookstores We Love: Prospero’s (Kansas City), Well Read Books (Fulton)

26. The Best Bookstore in Montana: Country Bookshelf // Bozeman, Montana

Country Bookshelf in Bozeman
Country Bookshelf in Bozeman / Amy Guth, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Established way back in 1957, the Country Bookshelf has an old-timey feel and knowledgable staff that frequently earn it accolades. In addition to author events and a book club, the store partners with Bozeman schools and the Bozeman Public Library to help promote literacy with a program known as “One Book—One Bozeman.”

Other Montana Bookstores We Love: Shakespeare & Co. (Missoula), Tumbleweed Bookstore and Cafe (Gardiner)

27. The Best Bookstore in Nebraska: Indigo Bridge Books // Lincoln, Nebraska

Functioning as both a bookstore and a coffee shop, Indigo Bridge is a great hangout spot for any kind of reader. The store has a particularly strong connection to the local community, with some of its spaces designed by children. Furthermore, all of the coffee sales are donated back to the community.

Other Nebraska Bookstores We Love: The Sequel Bookshop (Kearney), A Novel Idea Bookstore (Lincoln)

28. The Best Bookstore in Nevada: Sundance Books and Music // Reno, Nevada

Sundance Books and Music in Reno
Sundance Books and Music in Reno / Trevor Bexon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Does anyone get a lot of reading done in the same state as Las Vegas? Apparently so: Sundance has been in business since 1985 and in its current location since 2011. Their selection is housed in a converted Victorian mansion that's become a monument to the written word. It's also minutes from the airport, so you can pick up titles for your travels.

Other Nevada Bookstores We Love: Bauman Rare Books (Las Vegas), Copper Cat Books (Henderson)

29. The Best Bookstore in New Hampshire: Gibson’s Bookstore // Concord, New Hampshire

If you need a little more incentive to log off Amazon and go into a physical bookstore, Gibson’s in Concord makes a compelling case. In business since 1898, the store not only houses books and baristas but also acquired local toy store Imagination Village to incorporate educational toys and games.

Other New Hampshire Bookstores We Love: Book and Bar (Portsmouth), Escape Hatch Books (Jaffrey)

30. The Best Bookstore in New Jersey: Montclair Book Center // Montclair, New Jersey

Fans have mused—semi-seriously—that being locked in the Montclair Book Center for the rest of your life wouldn’t be so bad. The shop boasts over 10,000 square feet of shelves stocked to the brim with new and used titles, including an impressive collection of vintage sci-fi and history books. There’s also a room full of used records to buy.

Other New Jersey Bookstores We Love: Books and Greetings (Northvale), WORD (Jersey City)

31. The Best Bookstore in New Mexico: Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse // Santa Fe, New Mexico

Relax with a book and organic, locally roasted coffee indoors or on the patio at Collected Works in Santa Fe, which boasts over 30,000 titles and plenty of author readings. Fans of the bookshop point to its relaxed, inviting atmosphere and fresh desserts as reasons to linger.

Other New Mexico Bookstores We Love: Page 1 Books (Albuquerque), Bookworks (Albuquerque)

32. The Best Bookstore in New York: The Strand Bookstore // New York, New York

New York's Strand Bookstore.
New York's Strand Bookstore. / Eunice, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Strand’s multi-story collection of books is so plentiful it bleeds out into the sidewalk. The brand claims its bookshelves hold 18 miles’ worth of new, used, and rare books, and you can find multiple storefronts and kiosks throughout the city.

Other New York Bookstores We Love: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (New York City), Binnacle Books (Beacon), Dog Ears Bookstore (Buffalo)

33. The Best Bookstore in North Carolina: Main Street Books // Davidson, North Carolina

There’s stiff competition in North Carolina, but Main Street Books in Davidson is one of the finest literary establishments in the state. In business since 1987, the store was actually built out of an old general store, and offers a plethora of programs and activities for book lovers. As part of the bookstore's subscription program, “The Matchbox,” customers can elect to receive a staff-approved book from the store’s kids’ books, first editions, or paperback titles each month.

Other North Carolina Bookstores We Love: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville), City Lights Bookstore (Sylva)

34. The Best Bookstore in North Dakota: Zandbroz Variety // Fargo, North Dakota

In May 1989, brothers Jeff and Greg Danz realized their longtime dream of opening the kind of store where they would want to shop, launching the first location of Zandbroz Variety in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It became so popular that they decided to head north to open a second location in Fargo just a few years later. The Fargo store features a trippy mix of smart and quirky goodies, but books are undoubtedly the main event, with a special section dedicated to local authors and titles that explore the history of the area (which is just as interesting to visitors as it is longtime residents). But there’s also a full supply of greeting cards, toys, jewelry, housewares, and other trinkets. They also brew a mean cup of coffee, giving you one more excuse to never want to leave the store’s delightfully eclectic confines.

Other North Dakota Bookstores We Love: Main Street Books (Minot), Sweets N Stories (Oakes)

35. The Best Bookstore in Ohio: Loganberry Books // Cleveland, Ohio

Loganberry Books—named after owner Harriet Logan—has been offering Clevelanders an alternative to big bookstore chains since 1994. Considering that Loganberry boasts over 100,000 new, used, and rare titles, the shop certainly gives mainstream outlets a run for their money. Online, Loganberry Books also runs a helpful service called “Stump the Bookseller,” which lets customers describe books they can’t quite recall the title of, in hopes that other bibliophiles will be able to fill in the gaps.

Other Ohio Bookstores We Love: The Ohio Book Store (Cincinnati), Gramercy Books (Bexley)

36. The Best Bookstore in Oklahoma: GypsySnark Books // Stillwater, Oklahoma

This little used bookstore and bric-a-brac shop in Stillwater covers pretty much any genre you might want—get lost in the sci-fi and horror nook, or search through shelves on the presidents, gardening, or local history and authors. Its unusual name reveals its owner’s varied interests: Founder Susan Thomas, a retired analyst with the U.S. Forest Service, spent years studying gypsy moths (now known as spongy moths). She also has always loved the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark.” Combine the two, and you get GypsySnark.

Other Oklahoma Bookstores We Love: Full Circle Bookstore (Oklahoma City), Chapters (Miami)

37. The Best Bookstore in Oregon: Bloomsbury Books // Ashland, Oregon

Bloomsbury Books in Ashland, Oregon
Bloomsbury Books in Ashland, Oregon. / Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

For nearly 40 years, Bloomsbury Books has worked to make the pleasure of reading as pure as possible. It's named for an early 20th century London literary society called the Bloomsbury Group—one in which Virginia Woolf was a central figure, just as she is at this Bloomsbury. Ask the staff for recommendations, then relax with your new tome in their cozy on-site coffee shop.

Other Oregon Bookstores We Love: Powell’s Books (Portland), Gold Beach Books (Gold Beach)

38. The Best Bookstore in Pennsylvania: Farley's Bookshop // New Hope, Pennsylvania

Located in bustling downtown New Hope, a picturesque enclave nestled on the Delaware River, Farley’s has been in business since 1967. The shop has that lived-in feel that makes you kind of nostalgic for the time before Amazon existed, and its friendly staff is full of bibliophiles who seem magically able to figure out what it is you’re looking for, even if the only description you can utter is “a true crime book with a black cover by that guy.” It’s also worth noting that the store has a private parking lot, which is a rarity in the area and a godsend for shoppers who have a tendency to lose all track of time when surrounded by an impossibly well-curated collection of literature.

Other Pennsylvania Bookstores We Love: Head House Books (Philadelphia), The Old Library Bookshop (Bethlehem), Books Galore (Erie), City Books (Pittsburgh)

39. The Best Bookstore in Rhode Island: Charter Books // Newport, Rhode Island

Charter Books was founded in 2020 by Steve Iwanski to serve full-time Newport residents as well as tourists. It takes its name from the Rhode Island Royal Charter of 1663, which created the state, and its mission is “to cultivate community and a robust local culture through a broad selection of books, programming, and the free exchange of ideas.” Among its offerings is a “Signed First Editions Club,” which offers subscribers a new hardcover signed by a staff-picked author every four to six weeks.

Other Rhode Island Bookstores We Love: Barrington Books (Cranston)

40. The Best Bookstore in South Carolina: Blue Bicycle Books // Charleston, South Carolina

Don't let the small(ish) storefront fool you: Blue Bicycle Books on Charleston’s Upper King Street, located just a few blocks from the College of Charleston, takes up a substantial amount of real estate: It goes back 172 feet. It has ample space for as many as 150 people to attend the more than 200 author events the store hosts each year. David Sedaris, R.L. Stine, Sue Monk Kidd, Bill Murray, and Neil Gaiman are just a few of the hundreds of authors who have stopped by since Blue Bicycle opened in 1995. The shop devotes a chunk of its shelf space to local Charleston authors as well as military history (The Citadel and Fort Sumter are just a stone’s throw away, after all), but it doesn’t shy away from bestsellers and other new titles. The shop also deals in rare signed first editions from the likes of Harper Lee and William Faulkner. In an effort to engage its community of young readers and writers, the store also hosts a summer writing camp for kids and the annual YALLFest, which attracts more than 12,000 YA fans (not to mention top authors in the genre) to the city each November.

Other South Carolina Bookstores We Love: M.Judson Booksellers (Greenville), Fiction Addiction (Greenville)

41. The Best Bookstore in South Dakota: Mitzi's Books // Rapid City, South Dakota

For more than a decade, Mitzi’s has been offering Rapid City’s literati an amazingly well-curated selection of books in a comfy-cozy shop that kind of feels like an extension of your own living room. You’ll get no dirty looks here if you decide to plop down in a chair and while away an afternoon reading one of the knowledgeable staff’s latest book recommendations. In fact, hanging around is encouraged. Best of all, there’s just as much variety in the well-stocked children’s book section, making a visit to Mitzi’s an easy all-ages affair.

Other South Dakota Bookstores We Love: The Book Zealot (Watertown)

42. The Best Bookstore in Tennessee: Parnassus Books // Nashville, Tennessee

Parnassus Books (“An Independent Bookstore For Independent People”) has become an oasis for Nashville book lovers. Indeed, it was designed that way: Bestselling author Ann Patchett and publishing veteran Karen Hayes opened Parnassus in 2011 at a moment when Nashville had zero other bookstores, drawing on Patchett’s childhood love of smaller-scale, personable bookshops. “I wanted to re-create that kind of bookstore, one that valued books and readers above muffins and adorable plastic watering cans,” she writes on the Parnassus website. Highlights include books by local authors, a standout biography section, a passionate staff, regular author events (both in-store and virtual), and a monthly book subscription club.

Other Tennessee Bookstores We Love: Burke’s Book Store (Memphis), Landmark Booksellers (Franklin), novel., (Memphis)

43. The Best Bookstore in Texas: BookPeople // Austin, Texas

The city of Austin, Texas, has gone through rapid changes in the last 10 years. While restaurants have gotten more expensive and buildings have gotten taller, some staples of the city remain. The charm of "old" Austin can still be found at BookPeople, a local favorite since 1970. Every bookseller there is extremely well informed, they’re never out of stock of the classics, and they are always promoting new, great literature. Some of the biggest authors in recent memory have made their way through for readings and events. It’s been the best bookstore in Austin since it opened its doors, and it's always worth stopping by.

Other Texas Bookstores We Love: Interabang Books (Dallas), Burrowing Owl Books (Canyon), The Twig Bookshop (San Antonio)

44. The Best Bookstore in Utah: The King’s English // Salt Lake City, Utah

The King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah. / Christian Harrison, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Ann Berman and Betsy Burton wanted a place to work on their novels when they opened King’s English in 1977. They ended up committing themselves fully to the business, and today, King’s English is one of the most beloved bookshops in Utah. Though it has attracted some famous fans, like author James Patterson (who gave the store a grant to build its children's section), it’s still a community business where employees remember your name and your reading preferences.

Other Utah Bookstores We Love: Weller Book Works (Salt Lake City), Back of Beyond Books (Moab)

45. The Best Bookstore in Vermont: Northshire Bookstore // Manchester Center, Vermont

This warm, family-owned bookstore has been around since 1976, although it moved across the street to take over the beautiful premises of a historic inn. With a great selection, plenty of reading nooks, and a dedicated staff (some of whom have been there for decades), you’re sure to find your next favorite read. Close to a third of the shop is dedicated to kids’ books, which makes it a perfect excursion for little ones.

Other Vermont Bookstores We Love: The Vermont Book Shop (Middlebury), Crow Bookshop (Burlington), Bartleby’s Books (Wilmington)

46. The Best Bookstore in Virginia: Shelf Life Books // Richmond, Virginia

Shelf Life Books (formerly Chop Suey Books) is home to two floors of books, both used and new, as well as a very sweet black-and-white cat named Wonton who’s known to lounge in the shop windows.

Other Virginia Bookstores We Love: One More Page Books (Arlington), BookPeople (Richmond), Blue Whale Books (Charlottesville)

47. The Best Bookstore in Washington: The Elliott Bay Book Company // Seattle, Washington

The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Washington.
The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Washington. / Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

A community mainstay since 1973 (even if some still mourn the original, historic Pioneer Square location), Elliott Bay Books is the place to find the latest books from established names and rising stars alike. New releases (as well as some older gems) are prominently displayed with hand-written notes from the sales staff, and the local history section is particularly strong. A downstairs area is one of the best places in town to catch local and touring authors, and the cafe is a perfect spot to refresh or even work on a laptop (provided you can find a seat). For serious bibliophiles, it’s a must-see destination in the Pacific Northwest.

Other Washington Bookstores We Love: Third Place Books (Seattle), Auntie’s (Spokane), Darvill’s Bookstore (Eastsound, Orcas Island)

48. The Best Bookstore in West Virginia: Taylor Books // Charleston, West Virginia

It would be easy to lose track of time and accidentally spend an entire day at Taylor Books, Charleston’s one-stop shop for all things artsy. Sure, the brick-walled building is charming, and there are thousands of books to choose from, but those aren’t the only draws. Customers can also grab a coffee and scone (lovingly made by owner Ann Saville) from the built-in cafe, take a pottery class, stroll through an art gallery, and attend live musical performances on the weekends.

Other West Virginia Bookstores We Love: Paradox Book Store (Wheeling)

49. The Best Bookstore in Wisconsin: Dotters Books // Eau Clair, Wisconsin

This independent, woman-owned bookstore works hard to curate its selection to focus on women, authors of color, and smaller publishing presses. One of the ways Dotters stands behind their selections? Every book is forward-facing, meaning no books can be hidden away in the corner of a shelf. And if you can’t make it into the beautiful little shop, its monthly subscription service will mail that month’s book club pick in addition to a new recommendation list and a locally designed bookmark.

Other Wisconsin Bookstores We Love: Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee), Village Booksmith (Baraboo)

50. The Best Bookstore in Wyoming: Sidekicks Bookbar // Rock Springs, Wyoming

This bright, cozy little enclave in downtown Rock Springs has everything you need for a relaxing evening in, with or without your favorite bibliophile friends. Find a book on their floor-to-ceiling wall of titles, tuck into one of many white couches that wind through the shop, and order some wine and charcuterie. Sidekicks has partnered with Jackson Hole Winery, so the selection of local wines is as well-stocked as the bestsellers up front.

Other Wyoming Bookstores We Love: Jackson Hole Book Trader (Jackson)

By Colin Ainsworth, Erika Berlin, Michele Debczak, Shaunacy Ferro, Kat Long, Bess Lovejoy, Emily Petsko, Javier Reyes, Jake Rossen, and Jenn Wood.

This article was originally published in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.